We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenae Lien and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenae, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Starting my own business made sense in my late 20’s. By that point, I had worked for a number of small businesses as a full-time employee, and gained an understanding of how to operate a strategic business. Having my own business was a natural transition in my career. I started to feel unsatisfied in how my time was being used. I felt that I had more to offer than what was being asked of me at these other companies. Weighing the risks, I remember worrying about a steady flow of income, having a 401K, and what my family would think of me giving up financial security. None of those worries were greater than the fear I had of losing out on experiencing a life dedicated to the arts. My husband was willing to take a leap with me out of the corporate world and into our own business bubble. We saved up money for a year before transitioning, to give us a financial cushion if we needed it. The business world had shifted by then. Social Media made it easier for artists to promote themselves, while also reaching out to clients. The calling to support yourself through your own means had never been greater before! It was an exciting time to explore the shifting career landscape and see where I could make a living while enjoying the work I produced. Since my business relies on my art, I believed I could handle being my own boss while staying motivated to produce work.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Photography has always been a tool to help me remember and better understand moments. When I learned about how photography can also be fine art, that fueled a desire to explore the medium further. I am still learning how to best navigate earning a living while also creating fine art. In 2018, I joined These Streets Magazine’s crew as a project manager and producer to help with the business side of things. I’m proud of the team for stepping up and supporting each other, especially during these CoVid times. These Streets Magazine continues to highlight photographers who are documenting life around the world. We’ve made the best of a socially distant situation by providing an outdoor gallery that highlighted over 20 photographers and their work in the year 2020. Our production team creates video and photo work for clients, and our film developing / scanning services have been gaining popularity in the community. The retail shop downtown is a great place to stop by and grab film if you’re shooting in the area. CoVid has been rough on my personal gigs with clients, the majority of my income was from event work, which I received mainly through word of mouth. Networking is important in any field, and in the art world, is crucial for your next opportunity. In February of 2020 I had my first solo art show to feature my paintings. I’ve been thinking about how to showcase my next series amidst the pandemic. I have not signed up with an agency, but I would love to have a manager to help me land more art work. The challenges have been about adapting to the current environment, and the uncertainty of this period in time. Before CoVid, it was a matter of will power and love towards art that pushed the creative juices forward. In some respect, success is still about determination and love of craft, however I am hustling with unrelated side jobs to keep the bills paid. I want the world to know that I have not stopped photographing or creating art. My photography is fine art, typically black and white with a focus on abstract composition, shapes, shadows and light. I love using black and white film. My paintings and drawings are more whimsical and colorful, with lots of eyes, plants and a symbolic alphabet that I created when I was 9. I like to use recycled materials as canvases for my paint and drawings, and I shoot with Leica camera bodies and lenses. There are hidden messages in my symbolic work centered about being your best self. I’ve learned how important it is to have a number of different ways to drive in revenue, just in case one path doesn’t work out.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Los Angeles is such an exciting place to explore! I recommend starting in Venice Beach and take a day to enjoy the boardwalk, the canals, the famous skate park and pier. Then, when night hits, venture to the Santa Monica pier just down the coast where Pacific Park lights up with rollercoaster rides and arcade games. The next day, I recommend taking time in the Hollywood area to do sightseeing along the walk of fame. It’s always dingier than people expect, but it’s an iconic part of town. Since you’re in the Hollywood area, stop by Fairfax and Melrose to do some shopping! Highly recommend spending a day at one of the parks here in SoCal – Universal Studios, Disneyland, Disney Adventure, Knott’s Berry Farm. On a day you feel like relaxing, I would take the PCH up to the Malibu coast and go on a drive, stopping by beach restaurants for clam chowder or oysters and happy hour. If you aren’t afraid of heights, I would book a helicopter ride during a sunset and fly over downtown Los Angeles. Finally, I would take some time at a museum here in L.A, there are tons of collections of work to see at the Broad, the Getty, MOCA, Natural History Museum, Huntington Gardens, etc. Be sure to ride the metro just to say you did it! Oh, and tacos. A trip to L.A wouldn’t be complete without some street tacos from Leo’s or Tire Shop Taqueria. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
YES! Huge gratitude to Mom and Dad, my husband Matthew, Loyola Marymount University’s Photo lab, These Streets Magazine and crew, John and Molly Rose, Leica Camera, inspiration shoutouts to Sally Mann, Mary Ellen Mark, Barbara Kruger, Andy Warhol and to my friends and family – I am blessed with your support and I love you!
Photo of the L.A Art show belongs to Feeny’s Photo. All other photos were taken by Jenae Lien.